Image via WikipediaUTA is in the process of pulling from service the 1990 MCI Classics that have served many miles for the UTA and being replaced by the new 30-foot Optima Opus buses.
The Design of the Classic is based of the GM New Look buses that first started production in 1959. Production in the United States was stopped in 1977 and replaced by the RTS series which UTA never used except during the Olympics. However the New Look continued to be produced in Canada and was updated in 1984 and became the classic. UTA purchased these buses in 1984 and 1990. In 1987 GM sold its bus division to MCI which at the time was part of Greyhound but the buses remained the same.
The problem with the newer buses is that they are not built to the same standards as the previous buses. The new Optima's and the Gillig's that UTA purchased over the last few years are not the same quality as the Classics or the New Looks that proceeded them. While the motors are essentially the same it is in the passenger cabin that you can really notice the differences in the buses.
If you where to ride on of the few remaining Classics that are left in service, while you will notice a couple of rattles here in there, it would not be major. Meanwhile even when the Gillig Advantage's where just a couple of years old they had major rattles and are not a passenger friendly bus to ride on.
Sadly there are several reasons why this happens.
1. Lowest bidder-may not always be the best bidder.
2. Fed's 12 Year Policy-Buses only have to last that long even though many of them are falling apart before that.
3. Policy Makers don't ride the buses-This is probably the biggest reason why the quality of today's buses is poor compared to older vehicles. For the most part the big wigs and especially the board members of UTA DON'T RIDE THE BUS. Unless it is for some public relations reason they are not on the buses. They do not ride the bus and see the condition of the buses so it doesn't even enter their minds that the customer compartment of the bus is poor. All they look at is the mechanical performance-that's all.
Do you think those big wigs would allow their personal cars to rattle like the buses that their customers have to ride in? Of course the answer is no, they would be screaming bloody murder to the dealer and the manufacturer. They should also not permit it on the buses their customers have to ride in either.
The board of directors and the top corporate people of transit agencies in general, not just the UTA need to demand better products from the manufacturers. It is their responsibility to their customers to do so.